THOUGHTS OF MISS UNIVERSE

2019



THE PRETHOUGHTS




THE PREDICTIONS (Dec. 8, 2019)



Who will wear the new Mouawad Miss Universe crown?? The big night is December 8 at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on FOX!

The preliminaries are over and now the ladies are rehearsing for the big show. Steve Harvey is hosting with Vanessa Lachey-Miss Teen USA 1998 and Olivia Culpo-Miss Universe 2012 serving as commentators. Ally Brooke is scheduled to be performing during the pageant.

Before we get on to the predictions, the judges or the "selection committee" was revealed and it is an all female panel of 6 judges and they are: Paulina Vega-Miss Universe 2014, Cara Mund-Miss America 2018, Gaby Espino, Bozoma "Boz" Saint John, Sazan Hendrix and for Preliminaries: Olivia Jordan-Miss USA 2015 was there instead of Crystle Stewart-Miss USA 2008 who will be judging finals and Riyo Mori-Miss Universe 2007 is also slated to judge for finals. The new Mouawad crown was revealed to the public on December 5 and the winner of Miss Universe 2009 will be the first to wear it. It is substituting the Mikimoto crown that was used last year as well as 2002-2007. Zambia's delegate also arrived late to Atlanta so will not be competing this year but perhaps next year as was done for Sierra Leone's delegate who arrived late last year and is competing this year instead. The preliminaries had some notable falls during the swimsuit competition and a few slips. The full falls were from France and Malaysia. The stage had to be swept by the choreographer on occasion but there were still some slips. Similarly to last year, there will be a top 20 this year and they are continuing to use the format of dividing the semifinalists by region so 5 contestants from the Americas will place, 5 contestants from Europe will place, 5 Contestants from Asia/Africa/Oceania will place and as for the remaining 5, those are the wild card spots. With the IMG era's emphasis on interview/stories/accomplishments, we could be in for a lot of surprises so I have studied each delegate and have seen pictures and the preliminary swimsuit and evening gown competitions and tried to take all of this into account along with some of my background knowledge when making my list and took a few risks knowing there are normally surprises so without further ado, here are my predictions for Miss Universe 2019.


TOM'S FINAL PREDICTIONS FOR MISS UNIVERSE 2019


Winner=Ireland-Fionnghuala (Fig) O'Reilly

As you probably recognized from my earlier prethoughts, I've pretty had my mind set on who I think best fits the criteria of what IMG looks for in a uniquely accomplished titleholder and Fig may be the lucky star. The emerald isle has never won the crown so this could be a first time win for Ireland. I will admit that I was expecting a different gown but all the recent Miss Universe titleholders have had different gowns for finals so I'm hoping to see a gown change but Fig has an amazing body for which she has had been rewarded in previous pageants like the Miss DC USA pageant. Fig's main selling point is that she works for NASA as a director for their Space Apps program and as a NASA datanaut, she is actively exploring the Universe that she hopes to represent and she even hopes to be the first woman to land on Mars. Will a Miss Universe win aid those intergalactic travels?

1st Runner Up=Colombia-Gabriela Tafur Nader

The Tafur Nader hopes to terminate the competition and she could easily do it as Gabriela is a total pro. She comports herself with supreme confidence and has an incredible style and the body to go with it but this is also an achieved woman as she works as a lawyer and has graduated from Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota cum laude and also plays the violin and the piano. As mentioned in my first round prethoughts, Gabriela is of Lebanese descent and the new crown sponsor, Mouawad also originated in Lebanon. It would also be nice to see the reigning Miss Universe from the Philippines crown the Colombian delegate to bring the debacle of 2015 full circle. Will it happen? There's a high possibility! After missing the semifinals last year, the world's finest coffee land hopes to come back strong this year. Colombia won the Miss Universe crown twice (1958 and 2014) and have placed as 1st runner up a whopping 6 times.

2nd Runner Up=Thailand-Paweensuda Drouin

As mentioned in my first round prethoughts, Thailand's delegate is absolutely one to watch this year. She is a graduate of the University of Calgary in Canada where she majored in Kinesiology and she works in Thailand as a model and a DJ and is also very experienced in pageantry having placed in the top 8 at Miss Earth and also competing in other Thai pageants. She is currently in my top 5 as she is tall and striking and she was also chosen by the new crown sponsor, Mouawad to do some modelling for them prompting some to believe she is the chosen one. The golden kingdom of Thailand which hosted last year's Miss Universe pageant has won two Miss Universe crowns (1965 and 1988) and they currently have a four year streak in the semifinals so Paweensuda is expected to make it a fifth consecutive year and possibly get Thailand's third Miss Universe crown.

FINALISTS:

Puerto Rico-Madison Anderson Berrios

Madison is considered one of this year's strongest delegates overall. Her performance in the preliminaries was excellent as she is photogenic with one of the best bodies in the competition and her gown was spectacular. She is studying public relations and marketing and is active in social causes such as fighting gender based violence, helping women released from incarceration, visiting cancer patients and speaking to students about self-love and anti-bullying. Madison has received a little flack though for having competed for the Puerto Rican title and confessed during the pageant that Spanish wasn't her first language and some of you may remember that Madison was 1st runner up at Miss Florida USA 2019. She was also 4th runner up at Miss Florida Teen USA 2014. The shining star of the Caribbean has won the Miss Universe crown 5 times (1970, 1985, 1993, 2001 and 2006) and placed in the top 5 last year. Let's not forget that pattern that supports a win for Puerto Rico this year since every year after Thailand has hosted the Miss Universe pageant, Puerto Rico won so is Madison about to bring a 6th Miss Universe crown to her nation?

France-Maëva Coucke

Yes, I'm aware that she fell during the preliminary swimsuit competition but she recovered magnificently and it can only help this woman who was a contender right from the beginning. The belle mademoiselle Maëva is among the most photogenic delegates competing this year and she has accomplishments to back up that gorgeous face as she has a degree in International Trade and is passionate about the fight against breast cancer, as her mother is a survivor of the disease. She uses her national platform to raise awareness for breast cancer screenings. Maëva recently competed at Miss World 2018 placing in the top 12 and she is currently in my top 5. France's 4 year streak in the semifinals was broken in 2017 after winning the crown the year before so can Maëva bring glory back to the fashion capital of the world which has won two Miss Universe crowns (1953 and 2016)?

SEMIFINALISTS:

USA-Cheslie Kryst

Cheslie really amazed during the preliminaries going from straight hair back to those natural fabulous diva curls and rocking the best abs in the whole competition. Some may deem it a bit too muscular but she's so Extra! During her reign as Miss USA, Cheslie Kryst has been doing entertainment reporting for the show "Extra" which currently has Billy Bush (who co-hosted Miss Universe 2003 to 2005 and 2009) as its head anchor. Already supremely accomplished, Cheslie is already being seen by multiple celebrities and also boasts graduating from Wake Forest University School of Law with a Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration in 2017. Could Cheslie get a 9th Miss Universe crown for the USA?

Venezuela-Thalía Olvino

Gracious and sophisticated, Thalia showed us during preliminaries why Venezuela is the world's pageant powerhouse and even though Gabriela Isler-Miss Universe 2013 now directs the Venezuelan delegate instead of Osmel Sousa, Thalía is quite achieved suitably for the IMG era of pageantry and could possibly get her nation's 8th Miss Universe crown. Thalia received her Bachelor's degree in Management Science majoring in Marketing and is even a synchronized swimmer which surely helps her keep her amazing body in shape. Venezuela has placed in 10 of the last 12 Miss Universe pageants missing the semifinals in 2010 and 2016 and was 2nd runner up last year so let's see how Thalía does.

India-Vartika Singh

Vartika was appointed to represent India this year and she is a contender. She is accomplished since she has a Master's degree in Public Health and has worked as a Technical Advisor in quality assurance for the world bank. She also was 2nd runner up at Miss Grand International 2015 so her interview skills should be strong. I appreciated her performance in preliminaries especially the unique hairstyle in evening gown. India has won Miss Universe two times thanks to Sushmita Sen in 1994 and Lara Dutta in 2000 and they last placed for 2014.

Croatia-Mia Rkman

Mia really pleased me in preliminaries and I'm very happy to see Croatia send such a strong contestant. I also loved her styling in gown as it reminded a lot of Miss Kosovo 2009 who finished as 2nd runner up that year. Mia is right in step with the IMG era of pageantry as she is accomplished finishing her Bachelor's degree in Environmental Health Engineering specializing in epidemiology at the University of Applied Health Sciences. She hopes to help resolve life threatening health conditions such as breast and cervical cancer. Croatia has placed thrice as a semifinalist (2009, 2012 and 2017) but has never won the crown so could this be the year??

South Africa-Zozibini Tunzi

Apart from this absolutely stunning gown that the audience audibly gasped when Zozibini displayed it during preliminaries, she has a unique spunk and is simultaneously appealingly gracious. As pointed out in my first round prethoughts, there is a pattern supporting her being 2nd runner up since South Africa's seems to be following the lead from Colombia winning for 2014 then placing as 1st runner up in 2015 and 2nd runner up for 2016 so since South Africa won in 2017 and placed 1st runner up in 2018, does that mean Zozibini is destined to be 2nd runner up?? Zozibini has been likened to Grace Jones and she attended Cape Peninsula University of Technology obtaining a Bachelor's degree in Public Relations and Image Management in 2018. South African delegates are known for their strong interview skills and Zozibini has commanding catwalk skills as well. South Africa has won two Miss Universe crowns thanks to Margaret Gardiner in 1978 and Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters in 2017.

QUARTERFINALISTS:

Albania-Cindy Marina

Cindy has an amazing body and overall look. She is tall and striking and her accomplishments include being on the Albanian national volleyball team as well as playing volleyball for Duke University and also where she is studying International Relations and Global Business at the University of Southern California. Albania has never won the crown and their last placement was in 2010 when they made the top 10.

Philippines-Gazini Ganados

Gazini was decent in preliminaries. Her gown has that same winged-bust look similarly to the gown she wore when she won her national title. Gazini has the pressure of hailing from the land of the reigning from Miss Universe. Only Venezuela has managed to pull off the elusive back-to-back win in 2008 and 2009 so could Gazini do it for the Philippines? Gazini is a Graduate of Health Care Services NCII and Tourism Management from the University of San Jose Recoletos. Philippines currently holds the longest streak placing 9 years in a row since Venus Raj started it all in 2010 so will Gazini make it an even 10? The tropical haven of Asia has 4 Miss Universe winners: Gloria Diaz in 1969, Margarita Moran in 1973, Pia Wurtzbach in 2015 and Catriona Gray in 2018.

Mexico-Sofía Aragón

I really liked Sofía's gown during preliminaries. It just has an angelic feel. She is also accomplished by being a published author having written two novels Diamante en Bruto (2017) and El color de lo Invisible (2019) and she founded her own publishing company GLAMéxico. She is also an entrepreneur who launched a cosmetics company Soswami Makeup and she is active in the fight against depression. The land of the Mariachi has won the Miss Universe crown twice (1991 and 2010) and last placed in 2016.

Tanzania-Shubila Stanton

Shubila moved into my list after preliminaries as I just find her very likeable and she appears to have a sincere heart and I think this will help her in interviews. I loved her silver gown and she is tall and has a sweet face and the distinct short hair should help her stand out. She is achieved as she actively fights climate change and hopes to be the next Greta Thunberg as she is an environmental activist and recently obtained a degree in environmental science and management. Tanzania has sporadic participation and has only placed once which was in 2007 when Flaviana Matata finished in 6th place.

Indonesia-Frederika Cull

Frederika has long been a favorite and although she stumbled in the preliminary swimsuit competition due to the slippery stage, she recovered well. Indonesia has placed in 5 of the last 6 pageants so the emerald of Southeast Asia has become a country to watch prompting me to put her in my top 20. Frederika hopes to be the first Muslim Miss Universe and is active in saving dogs from her country's dog trade and seeks to encourage birth registration. Indonesia has never won the crown and has never advanced to a top 10 position in the 6 years that they placed so we'll see if that changes this year.

Panama-Mehr Eliezer

This tropical isthmus last placed in 2016 and inherited their only Miss Universe crown in 2002 when Russia's Oxana Fedorova was dethroned and Justine Pasek who was originally the 1st runner up took over. Mehr was born in India and was raised in the Philippines and in Panama. She is very accomplished having a Bachelor's of Science degree in International Affairs with minors in economics and history. She is also an intern at the Americas regional office of the United Nations Office for Project Services. Mehr speaks very well and I do consider her to be among the most photogenic delegates competing this year so she is in my top 20. I'm aware of her untoned midsection but I've seen a variety of body types place in years past so I think a strong interview/accomplishments, gown and face are enough to save her.

Bangladesh-Shirin Akter Shila

This is the first year that Bangladesh is participating at Miss Universe and Shirin is one to watch. She stands out as uniquely wearing active wear as opposed to a swimsuit and her gown and overall look are actually quite outstanding. In terms of achievements, she is a student at Dhaka University pursuing a degree in physics. She was also crowned by Miss Universe 1994, India's Sushmita Sen.

Netherlands-Sharon Pieksma

I'm giving Netherlands a pass this year as watching her in preliminaries somehow reminded me a lot of Olivia Jordan-Miss USA 2015 who was one of the preliminary judges as she actually does have a great overall look that I didn't really notice before so I'm thinking she might pull off one of the European placements. She also seems to have a natural charm which should come across in interviews so I decided to place her here.

Brazil-Julia Horta

The land of the Samba has placed every year since they hosted the pageant in 2011 placing 8 years in a row and other people consider Julia as one to watch so I guess I'll put her in my top 20. I'm now wowed by her if I'm being honest but she does have a decent body and a look somewhat similar to pop star Dua Lipa and her accomplishments include earning her Journalism degree at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora in 2016 and working as a speaker and digital influencer and is passionate about women's rights. Brazil has won two Miss Universe crowns thanks to Ieda Maria Vargas in 1963 and Martha Vasconcellos in 1968.

Vietnam-Hoàng Thùy

The Vietnamese delegate seems to have some really high favor from others so for that reason, I find myself forced to put her in my list but to me, she doesn't seem to be on the same level as last year's impressive delegate. I see a long face and she looks perhaps not as toned in the midsection and she seems to be more of a model type and she did win a season of Vietnam's Top Model. From some online videos, I get the impression that her English might not be that strong but I've heard she is quite humble and nice. Vietnam has only placed twice which was in 2008 and in the top 5 for 2018.

ALTERNATES:

Australia-Priya Serrao

I switched out Australia for Vietnam to conform to what the general consensus is so I hope I did the right thing. I think Priya will excel in interviews and her accomplishments are right in step with the IMG era of pageantry but perhaps she wasn't as strong in preliminaries. She works as a Policy Advisor for the Victorian government and has tertiary degrees in Politics, International Studies, and Law so this is clearly an intelligent woman. Australia hasn't sent a delegate of South Asian descent since Beverley Pinder in 1978 (Beverley was born in Sri Lanka and Priya was born in India) and Australia's recent track record is actually quite good as they have placed in 8 of the last 11 Miss Universe pageants missing out only on 2013, 2016 and 2017. Australia has won the crown two times which were in 1972 (Kerry Anne Wells) and 2004 (Jennifer Hawkins).

Chile-Geraldine Gonzalez

The land of the Andes is being represented by Geraldine who has some interesting attributes such as working as a volunteer firefighter and studying law helping immigrants with the legal processes of becoming a Chilean citizen. I watched a few videos online of interviews with her and she didn't appear as enthused so this was a determining factor here and although others seem to favor her, she doesn't have the same facial appeal to me. Chile's Cecilia Bolocco won their only Miss Universe crown in 1987 and their last placement was in 2004.

Great Britain-Emma Victoria Jenkins

Emma just fell out of my list after preliminaries to an alternates position as she is a Welsh television presenter but this gown somehow made her look heavy and I also noticed that she didn't place when she represented Wales at Miss World 2015 so I ended up placing her here.

Iceland-Birta Abiba Þórhallsdóttir

The land of glaciers and lava and Björk hasn't placed since making the top 15 in 2009. Birta is Iceland's first black/biracial delegate and she has written a novel and advocates for diversity and cultural awareness being taught in Icelandic schools. I have her as an alternate as while she has a good story and is sporting the popular curly hairstyle, she does seem a bit soft-spoken and I was hoping for a little better overall performance in the preliminaries. Iceland has never won the crown but their highest placement was as 1st runner up in 1962.

Peru-Kelin Rivera

I placed Kelin as an alternate as Peruvian delegates seem to have been ignored in recent years. Kelin is a formidable candidate though as she is a graduate of Usil University where she received a degree in Business Administration. She was recently named an ambassador for vicu which is a type of wool by the Peruvian government where she works with communities that sell this wool to help boost their economy and promote sustainability. I question whether or not the whole wool thing will get frowned on. The land of the Incas last placed in 2016 and their only winner was Gladys Zender back in 1957.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Argentina-Mariana Varela

As mentioned in my first round prethoughts, Osmel Sousa has officially left Venezuela at the age of 73 but is now directing Argentina and Uruguay so we shall see if IMG is receptive to his techniques or not. Mariana's gown was questionable but she has a decent body and overall look but seemed to fizzle in preliminaries. Also, I am not seeing much in terms of accomplishments other than she is fighting gender violence.

Dominican Republic-Clauvid Daly

I heard that Clauvid was sick so that might explain the lackluster performance in the preliminaries causing her to fall to the honorable mentions category. She is young being 18 years of age but she is the first female ambassador of the Dominican Republic in the United Nations and she became an advocate for the United Nations' resolution that declared Child Marriage an international humanitarian disaster so we'll see what happens.

Portugal-Sylvie Silva

Portugal got their first and only placement ever in 2011 finishing in the top 10. I think Sylvie was decent in preliminaries but perhaps it may not be enough and in terms of achievements, she is pursuing a career in landscape architecture so we shall see if Sylvie can get a second placement for the land of explorers.

Honduras-Rosemery Arauz

Rosemery actually has a good body and could be a surprise. She is studying Finance and is self-employed and designs her own jewelry with aspirations of owning a high fashion jewelry company. She also dresses up in costumes to cheer up children that are staying in local hospitals so I can see this being a good visual so it could translate into a placement. Honduras has had to wait the longest for a repeat placement as they haven't placed since 1955.

Romania-Dorina Chihaia

The land of mysterious Dracula has never placed but that could change this year as this delegate is quite accomplished having a Masters degree from a Chinese University and the ability to speak 5 languages so Dorina could be a surprise.

NEXT TIER:

Others just missing my list but could place for one reason or another are:

SLOVAK REPUBLIC-She is a student of Finances and Accounting at University of Economics in Prague and she actually looks quite good but I feel like she won't do well enough in interview.

SPAIN-I feel like she is more just a model and not as accomplished and didn't perform as well in preliminaries.

HAITI-Preliminaries didn't convince me even though she has placed in other major pageants and she graduated from Ottawa University with a Bachelor's degree in International Development and Civil Law.

SIERRA LEONE-She arrived late last year and was given the opportunity to compete this year instead. Will she be rewarded for making that effort? It seems unlikely as while she does have some great modelling shots, there may not be enough achievement here to place.

GERMANY-As one of the shorter delegates, she could be a surprise body diversity candidate as she is a full-time petite model with a campaign #heightisnotanissue. She also obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Business Communication.

MYANMAR-She came out as a lesbian not too long ago but it hasn't been really getting much attention so I think this will kept quiet this year or perhaps they may do a special segment for her as was done for Spain 2018, Iraq 2017 and Slovenia 2015.

JAPAN-Some people seem to like her unconventional look as she doesn't really look like a pageant girl but I don't see enough accomplishments here.

EQUATORIAL GUINEA-This is a first-time entrant from this country and she seems to have done a decent job. One standout humorous moment for her was during the national costume competition when El Salvador took too long carrying a heavy headpiece which took up the stage so Equatorial Guinea jumped off stage into the audience and jumped back on stage and showed her costume and was offstage before El Salvador! Let's be sensible with our national costumes, people!

KENYA-Other people seem to like Kenya. She appeared too thin to me during preliminaries and she is very young and not as achieved so I'm not so sure.

GEORGIA-Just because I can see Steve Harvey using Georgia the country competing in Georgia the state as on-stage banter fodder but this delegate doesn't seem to be achieved enough to pull it off.


ACTUAL TOP 20:

MY PREDICTIONS:

Winner=?

Winner=Ireland-Fionnghuala O'Reilly

1st Runner Up=?

1st Runner Up=Colombia-Gabriela Tafur Nader

2nd Runner Up=?

2nd Runner Up=Thailand-Paweensuda Drouin

FINALISTS (alpha'l):

FINALISTS:

?

Puerto Rico-Madison Anderson

?

France-Maeva Coucke

SEMIFINALISTS (alpha'l):

SEMIFINALISTS:

?

USA-Cheslie Kryst

?

Venezuela-Thalia Olvino

?

India-Vartika Singh

?

Croatia-Mia Rkman

?

South Africa-Zozibini Tunzi

QUARTERFINALISTS (alpha'l):

QUARTERFINALISTS:

?

Albania-Cindy Marina

?

Philippines-Gazini Ganados

?

Mexico-Sofía Aragón

?

Tanzania-Shubila Stanton

?

Indonesia-Frederika Cull

?

Panama-Mehr Eliezer

?

Bangladesh-Shirin Akter Shila

?

Netherlands-Sharon Pieksma

?

Brazil-Julia Horta

?

Vietnam-Hoàng Thùy

 

ALTERNATES: Australia, Chile, Great Britain, Iceland, Peru

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Argentina, Dominican Republic, Portugal, Honduras, Romania

 

* = made actual top 20





So there you have it! Another year with another list! How did I do? Who are the surprises? Well, we shall soon know the truth!

Of course, tell everyone to watch Miss Universe 2019 - Sunday, December 8 on FOX!



__________________________________



SECOND ROUND PRETHOUGHTS (Dec. 2, 2019)




Preliminaries are being held on December 6 at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time so there should be a webcast available online at missuniverse.com



I'm going to post my final predictions for Miss Universe 2019 on the morning of December 8 after analyzing the preliminaries but in the meantime, I will present a second round of prethoughts of what my present thoughts are on each delegate. The format seems to be unchanged from last year with a top 20 selected with the same regional divisions with the top 20 consisting of 5 delegates from Europe, 5 delegates from the Americas and 5 delegates from Asia/Africa and 5 wildcard spots. 2006 and 2018 are the only other two years to have a top 20.
This year is slightly down with the number of delegates competing at 90 this year. Miss Universe 2018 had a record-breaking 94 delegates competing this year (surpassing the previous record of 92 set in 2017). Last year could have had 95 delegates but Sierra Leone's delegate who was originally supposed to compete in 2018 arrived late but the good news is that Marie Esther Bangura arrived on time this year so she will compete for 2019.




We will all witness the magic unfold on December 8 on FOX when the Miss Universe 2019 pageant broadcasts live from the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Steve Harvey will return as host for the fifth of his confirmed five years in a row. Atlanta has also hosted the 1991 Miss World pageant and the 1996 Summer Olympics.

Albania-Cindy Marina

Cindy is a contender. She is tall and striking and is currently in my top 10. Her accomplishments include being on the Albanian national volleyball team as well as playing volleyball for Duke University and also where she is studying International Relations and Global Business at the University of Southern California. Albania has never won the crown and their last placement was in 2010 when they made the top 10.

Angola-Salett Miguel

Angola sent a decent delegate but I don't think she has enough of a story to place. Angola last placed when they won their only Miss Universe crown in 2011 thanks to Leila Lopes who still remains the Miss Universe with the longest reign of 15 months and 1 week.

Argentina-Mariana Varela

As mentioned in my first round prethoughts, Osmel Sousa has officially left Venezuela at the age of 73 but is now directing Argentina and Uruguay so we shall see if IMG is receptive to his techniques or not. Mariana is in my top 20 currently but I am not seeing much in terms of accomplishments other than she is fighting gender violence. She does have a very nice body and overall look so we shall see if she can bring another placement to the land of Evita Peron which last placed in the top 10 for 2014 and they have one Miss Universe winner, Norma Nolan in 1962.

Armenia-Dayana Davtyan

Armenia made its debut at Miss Universe last year. She is passionate about graphic design and cartoon illustration. She is currently studying at the National University of Architecture and Construction of Armenia. I don't foresee a placement for this delegate from the land of the heritage of the Kardashians.

Aruba-Danna Garcia

Placements for Aruba are rare and I'm not expecting the one happy island to place this year. Aruba's last and best placement was in 1996 when Taryn Mansell was 1st runner up.

Australia-Priya Serrao

The land down under sends us a very accomplished woman in Priya Serrao. She works as a Policy Advisor for the Victorian government and has tertiary degrees in Politics, International Studies, and Law so this is clearly an intelligent woman. Australia hasn't sent a delegate of South Asian descent since Beverley Pinder in 1978 (Beverley was born in Sri Lanka and Priya was born in India) and Australia's recent track record is actually quite good as they have placed in 8 of the last 11 Miss Universe pageants missing out only on 2013, 2016 and 2017. Australia has won the crown two times which were in 1972 (Kerry Anne Wells) and 2004 (Jennifer Hawkins).

Bahamas-Tarea Sturrup

The Bahamas have never placed in the history of Miss Universe and I don't expect that to change this year but they have hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 2009.

Bangladesh-Shirin Akter Shila

This is the first year that Bangladesh is participating at Miss Universe and Shirin is one to watch. I currently have her as an alternate but she could move up after preliminaries if she impresses me. In terms of achievements, she is a student at Dhaka University pursuing a degree in physics. She was also crowned by Miss Universe 1994, India's Sushmita Sen.

Barbados-Shanel Marie Ifill

The birthplace of pop sensation Rihanna has never placed in Miss Universe history with sporadic participation over the years. Shanel studies law but she is not among my picks at the moment.

Belgium-Angeline Flor Pua

Belgium did place last year and this year's delegate has the distinction of being the first Belgian delegate of Filipina descent and she is also a pilot but I don't foresee a placement this year. Belgium has never won the Miss Universe crown but they have placed in the top 6 in 1981 and 1992.

Belize-Destinee Arnold

Jenelli graduated Cum Laude from California State University Fullerton with her Bachelor's Degree in Sociology. She currently works in the insurance industry as a property claims field adjuster for home restoration. The land of the jaguar and the Mundo Maya placed in the top 12 once back in 1979 but this year's delegate is not expected to place.

Bolivia-Fabiana Hurtado

This year's pageant isn't in Los Angeles so they won't place. Of course, I'm kidding as a venue normally doesn't affect a country's chances but it is true that Bolivia's last two placements were when the Miss Universe pageant was held in Los Angeles (in 2006 and 1990). I don't see Bolivia placing this year.

Brazil-Julia Horta

The land of the Samba has placed every year since they hosted the pageant in 2011 placing 8 years in a row and other people consider Julia as one to watch so I guess I'll put her in my top 20. She does have a decent body and a look somewhat similar to pop star Dua Lipa and her accomplishments include earning her Journalism degree at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora in 2016 and working as a speaker and digital influencer and is passionate about women's rights. Brazil has won two Miss Universe crowns thanks to Ieda Maria Vargas in 1963 and Martha Vasconcellos in 1968.

British Virgin Islands-Bria Smith

I think Nature's Little Secret will remain a secret this year.

Bulgaria-Lora Asenova

The land of roses has yet to place at Miss Universe and this year, Lora Asenova has a chance to change that as she has graduated from Sofia University with a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science and a Master's Degree in E-Business. She is currently not on my list though.

Cambodia-Somnang Alyna

Cambodia made their debut at Miss Universe in 2017. I don't foresee a placement for this year's delegate.

Canada-Alyssa Boston

The land of the maple leaf has placed in the top 10 for the last three years in a row but I think the streak ends here. Alyssa decided to go with a more reddish-auburn hair color similar to France's delegate but I don't think it will make much of a difference. In terms of accomplishments, she has graduated from the University of Windsor with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. Canada has won two Miss Universe crowns thanks to Karen Baldwin in 1982 and Natalie Glebova in 2005.

Cayman Islands-Kadejah Bodden

The land of crystal blue waters and white coral beaches has never placed and this year's delegate does have some impressive credentials being an honors graduate with a Bachelor's Degree in Biochemistry from the University of Kent and possessing a Master's Degree in Regenerative Medicine from Queen Mary, University of London but chances of her placing are slim.

Chile-Geraldine Gonzalez

The land of the Andes is being represented by Geraldine who has some interesting attributes such as working as a volunteer firefighter and claiming to be a lawyer at age 20 helping immigrants with the legal processes of becoming a Chilean citizen. I have her as a next tier delegate at the moment but this is one that has potential to move up after preliminaries. Chile's Cecilia Bolocco won their only Miss Universe crown in 1987 and their last placement was in 2004.

China-Rosie Zhu Xin

The world's most populated country pulled off a surprise placement in 2017 but they have never won the crown. Their highest placement was as 2nd runner up in 2002. I have this delegate as an honorable mention at the moment as she is quite seasoned in pageantry but I'm not so sure about her accomplishments as she has an undergraduate degree in Stage Makeup Design and also has a recycling project.

Colombia-Gabriela Tafur Nader

The Tafur-Nader hopes to terminate the competition and she could very well do that as I currently have her as my 1st runner up as I am very impressed with this delegate. She comports herself in a very professional manner and she has commanding presence and apart from her great body and overall look, this woman is very accomplished. She is a lawyer and graduated from Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota cum laude and also plays the violin and the piano. As mentioned in my first round prethoughts, Gabriela is of Lebanese descent and the new crown sponsor, Mouawad also originated in Lebanon. It would also be nice to see the reigning Miss Universe from the Philippines crown the Colombian delegate to bring the debacle of 2015 full circle. Will it happen? There's a high possibility! After missing the semifinals last year, the world's finest coffee land hopes to come back strong this year. Colombia won the Miss Universe crown twice (1958 and 2014) and have placed as 1st runner up a whopping 6 times.

Costa Rica-Paola Chacón Fuentes

The land of peace and brotherhood sends us Paola who is very experienced in pageantry having won Miss Tourism Intercontinental 2015 but going unplaced at Miss Supranational 2016 and Miss International 2017. She holds a degree in Business Administration but I have as a next tier delegate at the moment. After their first placement in 1954, Costa Rica incredibly had to wait 50 years for their next placement in 2004 and they also placed in 2011, 2013 and 2018.

Croatia-Mia Rkman

Mia is in my top 20 at the moment as I'm very impressed with her overall look and she is accomplished finishing her Bachelor's degree in Environmental Health Engineering specializing in epidemiology at the University of Applied Health Sciences. She hopes to help resolve life threatening health conditions such as breast and cervical cancer. Croatia has placed thrice as a semifinalist (2009, 2012 and 2017) but has never won the crown.

Curaçao-Kyrsha Attaf

Curaçao made the top 10 last year and they got a 1st runner up placement in 1968 and they also finished 4th in 1997. I don't see a placement happening this year though.

Czech Republic-Barbora Hodačová

I don't foresee a placement for Barbora this year. Czech Republic has never won the crown but they did have a 4 year streak in the semifinals from 2007 to 2010 which was when they last placed.

Denmark-Katja Stokholm

The happiest land on Earth and the land of the Little Mermaid sends us Katja this year who is currently a next tier delegate for me but has the possibility of moving up after preliminaries but Danish delegates tend to need to work on their walking/presentation skills. However, Katja studied ballet dancing since the age of 4 and dancers tend to move gracefully on stage. She presently studies International Economics and Business Administration at the University of Southern Denmark. Denmark has never won the crown but was 1st runner up in 1963 and they last placed in 2007. Is it time for a return?

Dominican Republic-Clauvid Daly

The land where your heart flames to the rhythms of merengue sends us young Clauvid who is currently in my top 20 as she seems to have a popular overall look and a strong story as she is the first female ambassador of the Dominican Republic in the United Nations and she became an advocate for the United Nations' resolution that declared Child Marriage an international humanitarian disaster. The Dominican Republic won the crown in 2003 thanks to Amelia Vega and placed in the top 10 in 2015.

Ecuador-Cristina Hidalgo

The land where the hemispheres meet last placed in 2013 when they pulled off their highest placement ever when Constanza Baez placed as 2nd runner up. This year's delegate has an interesting story of being forced to retire from being a professional tennis player due to an autoimmune disease but I don't foresee a placement for this delegate.

Egypt-Diana Hamed

The land of ancient wonders and modern progress has never placed and that isn't expected to change this year.

El Salvador-Zuleika Soler

The gentleman of the Americas sends us Zuleika who obtained her Bachelors in Communications with a minor in art at Kean University in New Jersey where she was raised. I have her as a next tier delegate at the moment but her working for a car dealer could be a point of interest similarly to Malaysia's delegate in 1970 that I'm surprised she didn't mention it in her bio. The host country of the 1975 Miss Universe pageant has never won the crown but they did place as 1st runner up back in 1955 and they haven't placed in the semifinals since 1996.

Equatorial Guinea-Serafina Nchama Eyene Ada

Equatorial Guinea is making its debut this year with Serafina who is currently attending school and obtaining her degree in mechanical engineering and she also plays basketball. She is currently not in my list at the moment.

Finland-Anni Harjunpää

I have Anni as an honorable mention currently as she has been looking decent upon arrival in Atlanta but I do not see too much in terms of achievements so preliminaries will be more of a determining factor here. Even though the land where tolerance and northern lights shine bright hasn't placed since 1996, they have 2 Miss Universe winners including the very first Miss Universe, Armi Kuusela who won her crown in 1952.

France-Maëva Coucke

Ooh là là! The belle mademoiselle Maëva is among the most photogenic delegates competing this year and she has accomplishments to back up that gorgeous face as she has a degree in International Trade and is passionate about the fight against breast cancer, as her mother is a survivor of the disease. She uses her national platform to raise awareness for breast cancer screenings. Maëva recently competed at Miss World 2018 placing in the top 12 and she is currently in my top 5. France's 4 year streak in the semifinals was broken in 2017 after winning the crown the year before so can Maëva bring glory back to the fashion capital of the world which has won two Miss Universe crowns (1953 and 2016)? France is one of three countries that has competed at every Miss Universe pageant since its inception in 1952 (Canada and Germany are the other two and USA was disqualified in 1957).

Georgia-Tako Adamia

Georgia the country competing in Georgia the state?? Does this sound like potential Steve Harvey fodder?? For this reason alone, this girl could get a surprise placement this year so keep an eye on her! Georgia has never placed.

Germany-Miriam Rautert

This could be a surprise body diversity candidate as she is a full-time petite model with a campaign #heightisnotanissue. She also obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Business Communication. She is not in my list at the moment but let's see if she can change my mind after preliminaries. The land that has produced some of my favorite music has competed in every Miss Universe pageant since the first one in 1952. Germany hasn't placed since 2002 and they won the crown once back in 1961.

Great Britain-Emma Victoria Jenkins

Emma is in my top 20 currently as Great Britain has been doing well in recent years and their interview skills are normally strong and Emma is already a Welsh television presenter so she seems to be ready to bring a third consecutive placement to the land of the Union Jack which has never won the crown.

Guam-Sissie Luo

Placements for Guam are rare as the land where America's day begins hasn't placed since 1982 when Patty Chong Kerkos achieved their highest placement of 1st runner up. This year's delegate is not expected to place.

Haiti-Gabriela Clesca Vallejo

Gabriela represented Canada at Miss Supranational 2014 and also competed at Miss Universe Canada 2017 placing in the top 20 at both pageants. She has also graduated from Ottawa University with a Bachelor's degree in International Development and Civil Law. Haiti finished as 1st runner up in 2016 as they did in 1975. There's possibilities here so I'll decide after preliminaries.

Honduras-Rosemery Arauz

Honduras hasn't placed since 1955 which makes them the country that has had to wait the longest for a repeat semifinalist. This year's delegate is not expected to place.

Iceland-Birta Abiba Þórhallsdóttir

The land of glaciers and lava and Björk hasn't placed since making the top 15 in 2009. Birta is Iceland's first black/biracial delegate and she has written a novel and advocates for diversity and cultural awareness being taught in Icelandic schools. I have her as an alternate at the moment as while she has a good story and is sporting the popular curly hairstyle, she does seem a bit soft-spoken but we'll see if she can change my mind after preliminaries. Iceland has never won the crown but their highest placement was as 1st runner up in 1962.

India-Vartika Singh

Vartika was appointed to represent India this year and she is a contender. I have her in my top 10 currently as she is accomplished since she has a Master's degree in Public Health and has worked as a Technical Advisor in quality assurance for the world bank. She also was 2nd runner up at Miss Grand International 2015 so her interview skills should be strong. India has won Miss Universe two times thanks to Sushmita Sen in 1994 and Lara Dutta in 2000 and they last placed for 2014.

Indonesia-Frederika Cull

Indonesia has placed in 5 of the last 6 pageants so the emerald of Southeast Asia has become a country to watch so she is in my top 20 currently. Frederika hopes to be the first Muslim Miss Universe and is active in saving dogs from her country's dog trade and seeks to encourage birth registration. Indonesia has never won the crown and has never advanced to a top 10 position in the 6 years that they placed so we'll see if that changes this year.

Ireland-Fionnghuala (Fig) O'Reilly

Fig is still my lucky star! I have Ireland as my winner still because she seems to be the strongest fit of what the IMG era queens have been in recent years. As a NASA datanaut and director for NASA's International Space Apps Challenge, this universal woman is uniquely achieved and is a good example for today's young women. There's also something about those DC girls and Fig also recently placed as 3rd runner up at Miss DC USA 2018. If Fig wins, it would also be the first time that the Miss Universe organization trio (Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA) would all be biracial/African-American women. The emerald isle has never won the crown so this would be a first win for Ireland and they pulled off a placement last year and their highest placement was as 2nd runner up twice in 1963 and 1983.

Israel-Sella Sharlin

That small land with a very rich history last placed in 2005 and Rina Messinger is Israel's only Miss Universe winning the crown in 1976. This year's delegate is not expected to place.

Italy-Sofia Marilú Trimarco

The land of culture, pasta and fashion has never won the Miss Universe crown but they do have two 1st runner ups (1960 and 1987) and last placed in 2014. This year's delegate is not expected to place.

Jamaica-Iana Tickle Garcia

Jamaica did place last year but I don't foresee a placement for this delegate. Even though the island of reggae has won Miss World 3 times, they have never won the Miss Universe crown but their best placement was 1st runner up in 2010 and they also placed as 2nd runner up in 2017.

Japan-Ako Kamo

I'm not expecting this delegate to place although some others seem to like her. The land of the rising sun last placed in 2015 and they have won the Miss Universe crown twice (1959 and 2007).

Kazakhstan-Alfiya Ersaiyn

Kazakhstan is a country that has never placed and that isn't expected to change this year.

Kenya-Stacy Michuki

Kenya placed among the top 6 in 2016 which marked their first placement in history. This year's delegate is quite young so possibly not achieved enough to place but she does have an appealing look so I have her as a next tier delegate currently.

Korea-Lee Yeon Ju

This delegate is tall and there are possibilities here but she doesn't seem to be winning a lot of widespread favor so I have her as a next tier delegate currently. Her achievements mainly include being an artist so we'll see if she can impress during preliminaries. Korea last placed in 2007 and the closest they came to the crown was a 1st runner up placement in 1988.

Kosovo-Fatbardha Hoxha

I don't see this year's delegate from Kosovo placing. Kosovo last placed in 2012.

Laos-Vichitta Phonevilay

Laos debuted in 2017 but I don't foresee a placement for Laos this year.

Lithuania-Paulita Baltrušaitytė

Lithuania has never placed and this delegate looks sweet but chances of her placing are slim.

Malaysia-Shweta Sekhon

Malaysia normally doesn't place and that isn't expected to change this year. They have only placed once which was back in 1970.

Malta-Teresa Ruglio

The heart of the Mediterranean has never placed and although Teresa has an interesting story of leaving Venezuela which is her birth country to escape conflict and seek better opportunities, I don't see her placing.

Mauritius-Ornella Lafleche

The peaceful island of paradise has yet to place and that isn't expected to change this year.

Mexico-Sofía Aragón

Sofía is among my top 20 at the moment as she is accomplished by being a published author having written two novels Diamante en Bruto (2017) and El color de lo Invisible (2019) and she founded her own publishing company GLAMéxico. She is also an entrepreneur who launched a cosmetics company Soswami Makeup and she is active in the fight against depression. The land of the Mariachi has won the Miss Universe crown twice (1991 and 2010) and last placed in 2016.

Mongolia-Gunzaya Bat-Erdene

Mongolia debuted last year but this delegate is not expected to place.

Myanmar-Swe Zin Htet

Myanmar came out in a big way this year as Swe Zin recently came out as a lesbian suddenly making her a newsworthy contestant. Will this translate into a placement or perhaps a special segment as was done for Spain 2018, Iraq 2017 and Slovenia 2015? Myanmar is now a next tier delegate for me because of this so we'll see how she does in preliminaries.

Namibia-Nadja Breytenbach

Nadja holds an Honors Degree in Psychology from the South African College of Applied Psychology. Namibia won their only Miss Universe crown in 1992 and they haven't placed since 2003. This year's delegate is not expected to place.

Nepal-Pradeepta Adhikari

Nepal managed to place in the top 10 for the first time last year but this year's delegate is not expected to place.

Netherlands-Sharon Pieksma

I'm not seeing much in terms of accomplishments here so chances of a placement are slim this year for the land of tulips and windmills. Netherlands made the top 5 for 2014 which was their last placement and Angela Visser won the crown for Holland in 1989.

New Zealand-Diamond Langi

New Zealand won the crown once in 1983 but the Kiwis haven't placed since 1992 surprisingly. This year's delegate is not expected to place.

Nicaragua-Inés López

The land of lakes and volcanoes last placed in 2013 but I don't expect this delegate to place.

Nigeria-Olutosin Araromi

As previously mentioned, Olutosin was Miss Nigeria USA 2015 and graduated from Montclair State University in New Jersey, earning a Bachelor's degree in Health and Human Services with a minor in Psychology. I am not expecting this delegate to place. Nigeria's only placement was in 2001 by Agbani Darego who would go on to win Miss World later that year.

Norway-Helene Abildsnes

The land of the fjords hasn't placed since 2005 and they won the crown once in 1990. This year's delegate has a unique field as she studies automation and robotics completing a trade certificate as an Instrument Technician but she is not expected to place.

Panama-Mehr Eliezer

This tropical isthmus last placed in 2016 and inherited their only Miss Universe crown in 2002 when Russia's Oxana Fedorova was dethroned and Justine Pasek who was originally the 1st runner up took over. Mehr was born in India and was raised in the Philippines and in Panama. She is very accomplished having a Bachelor's of Science degree in International Affairs with minors in economics and history. She is also an intern at the Americas regional office of the United Nations Office for Project Services. Mehr speaks very well and I do consider her to be among the most photogenic delegates competing this year so she is in my top 20 at the moment but I will be watching her midsection in preliminaries as I hope her stomach looks more toned and there was also a bit of controversy when she posted an altered picture on social media of Miss Dominican Republic which she quickly removed and apologized for calling it a misunderstanding.

Paraguay-Ketlin Lottermann

Paraguay has never won and they last placed in 2006 and 2004 placing as 3rd runner up both times. This year's delegate is not expected to place.

Peru-Kelin Rivera

Peru sends another strong contestant with Kelin. She is a graduate of Usil University where she received a degree in Business Administration. She was recently named an ambassador for vicu which is a type of wool by the Peruvian government where she works with communities that sell this wool to help boost their economy and promote sustainability. I currently have her as an alternate as Peruvian delegates seem to have been ignored in recent years but she has a strong possibility of moving into my list after preliminaries. The land of the Incas last placed in 2016 and their only winner was Gladys Zender back in 1957.

Philippines-Gazini Ganados

Gazini has the pressure of hailing from the land of the reigning from Miss Universe. Only Venezuela has managed to pull off the elusive back-to-back win in 2008 and 2009 so could Gazini do it for the Philippines? Gazini is a Graduate of Health Care Services NCII and Tourism Management from the University of San Jose Recoletos. She is currently in my top 10 as the Philippines currently holds the longest streak in the semifinals placing 9 years in a row since Venus Raj started it all in 2010 so will Gazini make it an even 10? The tropical haven of Asia has 4 Miss Universe winners: Gloria Diaz in 1969, Margarita Moran in 1973, Pia Wurtzbach in 2015 and Catriona Gray in 2018.

Poland-Olga Bulawa

Olga is accomplished as she has graduated with a Master's degree in Law and is currently a senior cabin crew member for her country's national airline. She is also the host of a travel and lifestyle television program. Poland pulled off a surprise placement last year and the land of Chopin has never won the crown but have placed as 3rd runner up twice (1986 and 1989). I have this delegate currently as a next tier delegate with possibilities of moving up after preliminaries.

Portugal-Sylvie Silva

Portugal got their first and only placement ever in 2011 finishing in the top 10. I am liking what I have seen of Sylvie so far in Atlanta so I currently have her in my alternates and in terms of achievements, she is pursuing a career in landscape architecture so we shall see if Sylvie can get a second placement for the land of explorers.

Puerto Rico-Madison Anderson Berrios

Madison is considered one of this year's strongest delegates overall and she is in my top 5 at the moment. She is studying public relations and marketing and is active in social causes such as fighting gender based violence, helping women released from incarceration, visiting cancer patients and speaking to students about self-love and anti-bullying. Madison has received a little flack though for having competed for the Puerto Rican title and confessed during the pageant that Spanish wasn't her first language and some of you may remember that Madison was 1st runner up at Miss Florida USA 2019. She was also 4th runner up at Miss Florida Teen USA 2014. The shining star of the Caribbean has won the Miss Universe crown 5 times (1970, 1985, 1993, 2001 and 2006) and placed in the top 5 last year. Let's not forget that pattern that supports a win for Puerto Rico this year since every year after Thailand has hosted the Miss Universe pageant, Puerto Rico won so is Madison about to bring a 6th Miss Universe crown to her nation?

Romania-Dorina Chihaia

The land of mysterious Dracula has never placed but that could change this year as this delegate is quite accomplished having a Masters degree from a Chinese University and the ability to speak 5 languages so although she is not in my list currently, we will see if that changes after preliminaries.

St. Lucia-Bebiana Mangal

St. Lucia has never placed in this pageant's history and that isn't expected to change this year.

Sierra Leone-Marie Esther Bangura

Marie is that delegate that arrived too late last year to Thailand and therefore could not compete and had to observe but she is back this year. Could she be rewarded for her efforts? I have her as an honorable mention at the moment as this girl does have some amazing professional pictures and she is a university student studying procurement, logistics, and supply so we'll see.

Singapore-Mohanaprabha Selvam

I have Mohanaprabha as a next tier delegate currently as this distinct look with the short hair really helps her stand out in a positive manner so maybe she could pull off a third placement for the land of racial harmony. Her achievements include obtaining a Biomedical Science degree and volunteering extensively with Singapore Red Cross. Singapore last placed in 1987 which was also the year they hosted the Miss Universe pageant.

Slovak Republic-Laura Longauerová

Slovak Republic placed only once which was in 1994. This year's delegate is not expected to place.

South Africa-Zozibini Tunzi

Zozibini is in my top 20 at the moment but as pointed out in my first round prethoughts, there is a pattern supporting her being 2nd runner up since South Africa's lead from Colombia winning for 2014 then placing as 1st runner up in 2015 and 2nd runner up for 2016 so since South Africa won in 2017 and placed 1st runner up in 2018, does that mean Zozibini is destined to be 2nd runner up?? Zozibini has been likened to Grace Jones and she attended Cape Peninsula University of Technology obtaining a Bachelor's degree in Public Relations and Image Management in 2018. South African delegates are known for their strong interview skills and Zozibini has commanding catwalk skills as well. South Africa has won two Miss Universe crowns thanks to Margaret Gardiner in 1978 and Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters in 2017.

Spain-Natalie Ortega

Natalie is a half-Norwegian and half-Spanish model. I currently have her as an honorable mention as I like what I have seen of her so far but I question her interview skills and accomplishments. Spain won its only crown back in 1974 and last placed in the top 10 in 2017.

Sweden-Lina Ljungberg

The land of the midnight sun hasn't had much success in recent years and while this delegate looks promising, I don't see enough achievement so I have her as a next tier delegate currently. Sweden has won the crown 3 times (1955, 1966 and 1984) and they last placed in 2009.

Tanzania-Shubila Stanton

I have my eye on Shubila as she is tall and has a sweet face and the distinct short hair should help her stand out so I have her as an alternate at the moment but she could move into my list if I like what I see after preliminaries. She is achieved as she actively fights climate change as an environmental activist and recently obtained a degree in environmental science and management. Tanzania has sporadic participation and has only placed once which was in 2007 when Flaviana Matata finished in 6th place.

Thailand-Paweensuda Drouin

As mentioned in my first round prethoughts, Thailand's delegate is absolutely one to watch this year. She is a graduate of the University of Calgary in Canada where she majored in Kinesiology and she works in Thailand as a model and a DJ and is also very experienced in pageantry having placed in the top 8 at Miss Earth and also competing in other Thai pageants. She is currently in my top 5 as she is tall and striking and she was also chosen by the new crown sponsor, Mouawad to do some modelling for them prompting some to believe she is the chosen one. The golden kingdom of Thailand which hosted last year's Miss Universe pageant has won two Miss Universe crowns (1965 and 1988) and they currently have a four year streak in the semifinals so Paweensuda is expected to make it a fifth consecutive year and possibly get Thailand's third Miss Universe crown.

Turkey-Bilgi Aydoğmuş

Turkey pulled off a surprise placement in 2012 and they have never won the crown. This year's delegate could be a potential surprise as she does decent achievements as she received her bachelor's degree at Istanbul University Faculty of Law, and looks forward to getting her master's degree in child rights in University of Leiden and she also plays basketball and piano so I'll be watching her in preliminaries.

Ukraine-Anastasiia Subbota

Anastasiia lucked out in getting to compete this year as she managed to get a visa in time to travel to the States prompting some to think a certain someone had something to do with that. Still, this delegate is not really expected to place as she is a model and in terms of achievements, she studies web design and volunteers to help military veterans. Ukraine has never won but they were 1st runner up in 2011 and 2nd runner up for 2014 but haven't placed since.

Uruguay-Fiona Tenuta

Placements for Uruguay are rare and this year's delegate isn't expected to change that. Uruguay hasn't placed since 1985.

USA-Cheslie Kryst

She's so Extra! During her reign as Miss USA, Cheslie Kryst has been doing entertainment reporting for the show "Extra" which currently has Billy Bush (who co-hosted Miss Universe 2003 to 2005 and 2009) as its head anchor. Already supremely accomplished, Cheslie is already being seen by multiple celebrities and also boasts graduating from Wake Forest University School of Law with a Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration in 2017. Cheslie is in my top 10 at the moment and USA is normally expected to place. USA has only missed the semifinals 5 times (1957, 1976, 1999, 2002 and 2010) and they have won 8 Miss Universe crowns (1954, 1956, 1960, 1967, 1980, 1995, 1997 and 2012) which is more than any other country. Could Cheslie get a 9th for the USA?

US Virgin Islands-Andrea Piecuch

Andrea competed at Miss Utah USA 2019 and placed as 3rd runner up before winning the US Virgin Islands title. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Marketing from the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor. The land of beauty and culture hasn't placed since 1971 and this year's delegate is also not expected to place.

Venezuela-Thalía Olvino

Thalía is in my top 10 at the moment. Of course, Venezuela is the world's pageant powerhouse and even though Gabriela Isler-Miss Universe 2013 now directs the Venezuelan delegate instead of Osmel Sousa, Thalía is quite achieved suitably for the IMG era of pageantry and could possibly get her nation's 8th Miss Universe crown. She received her Bachelor's degree in Management Science majoring in Marketing and is even a synchronized swimmer which surely helps her keep her amazing body in shape. Venezuela has placed in 10 of the last 12 Miss Universe pageants missing the semifinals in 2010 and 2016 and was 2nd runner up last year so let's see how Thalía does.

Vietnam-Hoàng Thùy

The Vietnamese delegate seems to have some favor from others but she doesn't seem to be on the same level as last year's impressive delegate so I have this delegate as an honorable mention currently. Vietnam has only placed twice which was in 2008 and in the top 5 for 2018.




So there you have it! Again, I will post my final predictions on the morning of December 8 and then the truth will be unveiled later that evening on December 8 on FOX!!



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FIRST ROUND PRETHOUGHTS (Nov. 25, 2019)



Who will succeed the Philippines’ Catriona Gray and be crowned Miss Universe 2019? Find out December 8 at 7 p.m. EST on FOX!

The lovely ladies are starting to arrive in Atlanta, Georgia, USA so it is time for the first round prethoughts for Miss Universe 2019!



Madea Goes to Miss Universe

Madea wears the Miss Universe crownHallelujer! Praise da Lordt! At least this isn’t another leap year! Miss Universe 2019 is actually being held in 2019 unlike the 2014 and 2016 Miss Universe pageants which were actually held in January of the following years. It took a while for all of us to learn the date and venue of this year’s Miss Universe pageant until it was announced on October 18 that Miss Universe 2019 would be held on December 8 (less than two months before the pageant) somewhere in the USA and then two weeks later, the host city was announced as Atlanta, Georgia and the venue would be the brand new Tyler Perry Studios. Tyler Perry is, of course, famous for his comedic character Mabel “Madea” Simmons and he has performed as this Madea character starring in several movies based on her adventures. However, Tyler Perry has said that he is retiring the Madea character so while we probably won’t be seeing her at Miss Universe unless she suddenly decides to come out of retirement for the occasion, Tyler could be involved in another capacity, perhaps as a judge but he is not obligated to make an appearance as he just owns the studio. One person who will be back is the host Steve Harvey who is completing the fifth year of his five year deal to host Miss Universe so time will tell if he renews this contract but he turns 63 in January so chances are pretty high that he will retire from hosting the pageant. I was fully expecting this year to be a leap year and for Miss Universe 2019 to be held in early 2020 because it took a while before anyone heard anything. There was short notice served to the national directors when FOX appeared to have an opening on December 8 to make Miss Universe a part of their holiday season line-up so it became a last minute scramble resulting in several countries having to withdraw this year including: Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Lebanon, Russia, Sri Lanka, and Switzerland and possibly Kyrgyzstan and Zambia. There was also news spreading that Ukraine had difficulty getting a visa at first but then news spread that Ukraine will indeed be competing this year prompting some to think that a certain someone had something to do with that… We won’t match last year’s record of 95 participants but we are still expecting around 90 contestants this year so we shall see who shows up as we remember last year that Sierra Leone’s delegate didn’t make it to Thailand in time for registration so Mary Esther Bangura is competing this year instead and she should be more than prepared this time around! The preliminaries and national costume shows are being held in the host hotel Marriott Marquis’ ballroom on December 6 at 8 p.m. EST. Last year, there was talk about potentially having the Miss Universe pageant in Korea or even the Philippines again to possibly give the reigning Miss Universe, Catriona Gray, a home-crowd send-off as was done for Margarita Moran in 1974 and Pia Wurtzbach for 2016/17 but since this year is more of a last-minute scramble, it had to be in the USA but perhaps a new venue and date will be lined up for the 2020 Miss Universe pageant. Also, there will be a new Miss Universe crown this year designed by Mouawad which will be revealed on the night of the pageant so hopefully it will be a nice one. We have seen many crown changes over the years but my preference has always been the chandelier crown that was used from 1973 to 2001 and we also had a rougher version of it used from 1963 to 1972. The Mikimoto crown was used from 2002 to 2007 and then returned for 2017 and 2018 but part of the Mikimoto crown broke during one of Catriona Gray’s homecoming parades so it was time to replace it. Other recent crown sponsors included CAO Fine Jewelry in 2008, Diamond Nexus Labs from 2009 to 2013 and DIC from 2014 to 2016. Who will wear the new Mouawad crown and be crowned Miss Universe 2019 to bring us into the roaring ‘20s? Let’s meet some of the possibilities!



Fig May Be My Lucky Star


Philippines-Catriona Gray Philippines-Catriona Gray Come on! Shine your heavenly body tonight! The luck of the Irish may well be with Ireland’s representative, Fionnghuala (Fig) Eley O’Reilly. Fig is a well-travelled woman and was born to an Irish father and an African-American mother in 1994 and we must remember that the IMG era of pageantry has made it clear that their titleholders must be accomplished women with stories to set strong examples for other women. Fig may very well be that woman as she works for NASA as a Director of the NASA Space Apps Challenge and a NASA Datanaut which is someone involved in educating themselves and others on methods to cultivate data science skills with the use of NASA’s available information. This woman is clearly bright and well educated as she has obtained a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering from The George Washington University in Washington, District of Columbia. In fact, Fig also competed in the 2014 and 2019 Miss District of Columbia USA pageants finishing in the semifinals and also in the 2018 Miss District of Columbia USA pageant (won by Bryce Armstrong) where she would finish as 3rd runner up but would win a swimsuit award before relocating to Ireland and competing for and winning the emerald isle’s national title. Those District of Columbia ladies have been smiled upon in recent years at Miss USA winning the national crowns in 2016 and 2017 thanks to Deshauna Barber and Kára McCullough and even placing in the top 10 for 2019. Is a Capital woman about to win the Miss Universe crown?
If Fig is the lucky star who wins the 2019 Miss Universe crown, she would become the second African-American (biracial) Miss Universe after the late, great Chelsi Smith in 1995 and it would complete the trifecta as it would also be the first time the Miss Universe Organization titleholder trio would consist of three black/biracial women since Miss USA, Cheslie Kryst and Miss Teen USA, Kaliegh Garris also fit this description. In fact, Ireland and USA will be roommates during the Miss Universe pageant so maybe this roommate situation will continue in New York if Fig wins Miss Universe. This would also be a first Miss Universe win for Ireland, the land of shamrocks and leprechauns, and a new country hasn’t won the Miss Universe crown since 2011 which is also the last time that a black woman (Angola’s Leila Lopes) won the title. This whole scenario reminded me of Italy’s Denny Mendez being the first black Miss Italy who competed for the 1997 Miss Universe crown and was my pick to win but she would finish 5th that year and even though that was 22 years ago, that memorable pageant is still fresh in my mind and Italy has yet to win the Miss Universe crown. I pondered how Ireland would receive their first Miss Universe as being a black woman but as my friend Wassim pointed out to me, Ireland is a very progressive nation that has recently elected Leo Varadkar, an openly gay and half-Indian man as their Taoiseach/Prime Minister. You might also recall that Miss Ireland 1998 and top 10 semifinalist at Miss Universe 1998, Andrea Roche, was also half-Indian and even Ireland’s Mr. World winner in 2010, Kamal Ibrahim, is also biracial with a Nigerian father and Irish-Italian mother. It would make sense for Fig to be crowned Miss Universe since she is actually actively exploring the Universe through her work at NASA so she is my winner at the moment. Will she remain at my top spot after preliminaries? We shall soon find out! Is she the luckiest by far??



Anywhere USA

No matter where we go. London, Paris, Rome! I’m taking a line from a song from the soundtrack from that notable pageant-related film “Miss Congeniality” from the year 2000 which starred William Shatner who would host the 2001 Miss USA pageant soon afterwards. There’s a lot of delegates with North American connections competing for the Miss Universe crown this year. Not just the aforementioned Irish representative but others include: Albania’s Cindy Marina, Puerto Rico’s Madison Anderson who was also 1st runner up at Miss Florida USA 2019 (won by Nicolette Jennings), US Virgin Islands’ Andrea Piecuch also competed at Miss Utah USA 2019 placing as 3rd runner up to Amanda Giroux, Nigeria’s Olutosin Araromi was Miss Nigeria USA 2015 and attended Montclair State University in New Jersey. And with Canadian ties we have, Haiti’s Gabriela Vallejo who represented Canada at Miss Supranational 2014 placing in the top 20 and also making the top 20 at Miss Universe Canada 2017. Miss USA 2019-Cheslie Kryst crowns Lizzo Puerto Rico Thailand’s Paweensuda Drouin’s father is Canadian and she also is Canadian-educated. Of course, all eyes will be on the host delegate, Miss USA, Cheslie Kryst. This extremely accomplished woman with those fabulous diva curls who worked as an attorney prior to her Miss USA reign has been getting her feet wet in the entertainment reporting world doing special correspondence for the show “Extra” where Cheslie has been interviewing numerous celebrities doing both red carpet specials and one-on-one interviews. One of my favorite interviews that Cheslie conducted was with the fabulous 2019 breakout star, Lizzo, who has the most Grammy nominations (8) for the upcoming 2020 show. Lizzo’s awesome song, “Juice” was the 2019 Miss USA swimsuit competition song and Cheslie even let Lizzo wear her Miss USA crown during their interview as seen here. As if Cheslie wasn’t accomplished enough, she is already trying her hand at this new field and could she get that coveted accomplishment of adding a 9th Miss Universe crown for the USA to that list? Also in the field of entertainment reporting is Miss USA 2007 and 4th runner up to Miss Universe 2007, Tennessee’s Rachel Smith.
Of course, we have to draw attention to Puerto Rico’s Madison Sara Anderson Berrios who is another strong contender for this year’s Miss Universe crown and there is a pattern supporting a win for Puerto Rico this year. As mentioned during last year’s first round prethoughts, every year after Thailand has hosted the Miss Universe pageant, Puerto Rico won. Thailand hosted in 1992 and Puerto Rico’s Dayanara Torres won Miss Universe 1993, then Thailand hosted in 2005 and Puerto Rico’s Zuleyka Rivera won Miss Universe 2006 and now Thailand hosted in 2018 so does that mean Puerto Rico’s Madison Anderson wins Miss Universe 2019??? Or have I jinxed it now that I mentioned it? Madison studied fashion design and textiles at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and currently studies marketing and public relations and is she is passionate about helping women who were victims of domestic violence in the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Madison is also very experienced in pageantry as she placed as 1st runner up at Miss Florida USA 2019 and 3rd runner up at Miss Grand International 2016. Puerto Rico finished in the top 5 last year and they have won 5 Miss Universe crowns already (1970, 1985, 1993, 2001, 2006) so will the shining star of the Caribbean triumph again?



Bring Me A Thai-er Love

Thailand ThailandThat love, that love. Briiiiiiiiiiiiiiing me Thai-er Love! Last year’s host, the golden kingdom of Thailand is being represented by Jennifer Paweensuda “Fahsai” Saetan-Drouin but during the Miss Universe competition, her name will be abbreviated to Paweensuda Drouin. Her nickname “Fahsai” means clear sky in Thai. Paweensuda’s father is Canadian and with her Canadian education and passion for helping people, she had chosen to major in Kinesiology and she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in the Kinesiology field from the University of Calgary and this is perceived as a pre-medical degree. Paweensuda was born and raised on October 12, 1993 to a Euro-Canadian father from the region of Montreal, Quebec and a Thai Chinese mother. She moved from Canada to Thailand to work as a model and she also even works as a sports DJ and she is even an athlete herself. Paweensuda has much experience in pageantry as well. She placed as 1st runner up at Miss Thailand 2013 and later placed as 2nd runner up at Miss Universe Thailand 2017 won by Maria Poonlertlarp Ehren (who was my prediction to win Miss Universe 2017 and finished in the top 5 that year). Paweensuda would also represent Thailand at Miss Earth 2017 placing in the top 8 and now she won the Miss Thailand Universe 2019 title and is a favorite for this year’s Miss Universe crown and she was also happy to be crowned as Thailand’s representative by the reigning Miss Universe, Catriona Gray. Through pageantry, Paweensuda has become involved in various charitable causes and advocates for various social movements. She has developed her own unique project called ABLE, which makes use of various sports to improve the physical ability and self-esteem of individuals with disabilities. She also started the 'We Are One' campaign which promotes equality and inclusivity among underprivileged children though sports, art, and music. She also applauds the #KuToo movement in Japan where women are fighting back against some outlandish workplace policies on workplace attire where some women are forced to wear high heels to work.
Is Thailand about to be rewarded for being a gracious host last year? It should also be pointed out that Fahsai has been selected by the new crown sponsor, Mouawad, to model some of their fine jewellery leading some to believe that she could be the chosen one. Thailand is expected to keep their strong streak going with Paweensuda and place for a fifth year in a row in the top 10 and they have won the Miss Universe crown twice thanks to Apasra Hongsakula in 1965 and Porntip Nakhirunkanok in 1988 so is it time for their third win?



The Tafur-Nader… She’ll Be Back/
Reading Rainbow Nation


Gabriela Tafur Nader hopes to terminate the competition as she represents the world’s finest coffee land, Colombia and this delegate is absolutely one to watch in this year’s competition as she is very accomplished and we know how well prepared Colombians are. Gabriela graduated from Colegio Bolivar in the city of Cali (where she was born on July 7, 1995) and she would go on to study law at the University of Los Andes in Bogota. After graduation, she worked as a lawyer in the legal department of Microsoft Colombia, and also acted as a coordinator for the commercial law specialization at the University of Los Andes. Gabriela wants to use her title to speak against violence against women. She learned to play the violin at the age of 4 and she is also fluent in English and Portuguese. She also shared an interesting factoid that was when she was younger and before she knew how to read, her older brother teased her about it but she retaliated by memorizing nursery books and tricked her brother into thinking she could read before she even knew how! Thailand Thailand Both Gabriela’s parents are of Lebanese origin. She is the daughter of Octavio Tafur, a civil engineer, and Olga Liliana Nader, owner of a decoration shop. In fact, Gabriela was invited to Lebanon during her reign as Miss Colombia to attend the Lebanese Diaspora Energy conference in June and even the new crown sponsor, Mouawad was founded in Lebanon. All these factors could work in Gabriela’s favor but I thought of a great way of the Steve Harvey era of pageantry to come full circle. Of course, you will recall the debacle that happened at the finale of Miss Universe 2015 when 1st runner up, Colombia’s Ariadna Gutierrez was mistakenly named the winner by host Steve Harvey only to have Steve come back on stage shortly after Ariadna was crowned to announce that he had made a mistake reading the card and that Ariadna was actually the 1st runner up and the winner was actually Philippines’ Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach which led to an awkward moment forcing fellow Colombian Paulina Vega, Miss Universe 2014, having to remove the crown from Ariadna’s head to place it on Pia’s head. With this year possibly being Steve Harvey’s last year hosting and with the reigning Miss Universe Catriona Gray being from the Philippines, would it not be a nice full circle moment to see the Philippines crowning Colombia to heal from the 2015 debacle? Will it happen? Colombia is absolutely one to watch this year. My friend Wassim also pointed out a pattern that Colombia has which relates to the South African delegate this year. Colombia won the Miss Universe crown for 2014 and was 1st runner up for 2015 and 2nd runner up for 2016 with progressively duskier contestants. South Africa seems to be following a similar pattern with South Africa winning in 2017, then being 1st runner up in 2018 so does this mean a 2nd runner up placement for South Africa for this year 2019?? Also with succeedingly duskier contestants, Mandela’s rainbow nation of South Africa is being represented by Zozibini Tunzi this year and a lot of people have likened her look to Grace Jones. Also very accomplished with a commanding catwalk, Zozibini has attended Cape Peninsula University of Technology, where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in public relations and image management in 2018. Although, Zozibini tried for the 2017 South African crown, she made the top 26 but did not advance to the top 12 that year but she came back strong in 2019 demonstrating great speaking ability when answering her national pageant’s final question, “Looking at the current state of our country, if you had the opportunity to be an adviser to the president, what advice would you give that would ensure a better South Africa for all?”, Zozibini replied, “I am a firm believer in education. I come from the Eastern Cape and this is one with the most disadvantaged provinces in the country, and I would really advise that they push on education and that they start at a very young age. Maybe there’s nothing much that can be done for elders but we can do so much more for children. It is the most painful thing to see when children don’t have shelters over their head or bridges to get to school or books. Thank you.” This answer clearly demonstrates Zozibini’s desire to turn the rainbow nation into a reading rainbow nation. Butterfly in the sky. I can go twice as high. Take a look. It’s in a book… Zozibini’s national costume pictured here was also recently unveiled. Made from the colors of the South African flag, the costume contains ribbons of messages from men of South Africa to women all over world with hopes of promoting her message of terminating Gender Based violence which is prevalent worldwide and not just in South Africa. Both Colombia and South Africa have won the Miss Universe crown twice (Colombia won for 1958 and 2014 and South Africa for 1978 and 2017) and after missing the semifinals last year, Colombia hopes to come back strong and South Africa also wants to keep its solid streak going so we shall if these ladies are able to read the room and terminate the competition!



Don’t Cry for Me, Venezuela!

VenezuelaUruguay with Osmel SousaArgentina with Osmel SousaThe international pageant powerhouse of Venezuela which boasts the most international pageant crowns of any country is being represented by Thalia Olvino at Miss Universe 2019. Thalia is a Management and Administrative Sciences student at Universidad Tecnológica del Centro in Guacara and she also practices synchronized swimming. Thalia hopes to get an eighth Miss Universe crown for the gateway of South America succeeding their wins in 1979-Maritza Sayalero, 1981-Irene Saez, 1986-Barbara Palacios Teyde, 1996-Alicia Machado, 2008-Dayana Mendoza, 2009-Stefania Fernandez, and 2013-Gabriela Isler and in fact, Gabriela Isler has taken the reins from Osmel Sousa as director for Venezuela's Miss Universe delegates. Venezuela has been in the news recently due to its economic turmoil but another pageant, Miss Grand International was recently held there and the hometown girl, Venezuela’s Valentina Figuera won the crown. There was a lot of concern prior to that pageant but it was surprisingly successful and Miss Grand International 2020 is also scheduled to be held in Venezuela in October. There have also been a lot of people leaving Venezuela and one of those people was the man behind a lot of Venezuela’s recent successes in pageantry, the czar of beauty himself, Osmel Sousa but even though is he 73 years old, the truth is he never left us! Osmel is still in the beauty game but directing two other countries; the land of the Gauchos, Uruguay and the land of Evita Peron, Argentina! Uruguay’s representative for Miss Universe 2019 is Fiona Tenuta who was appointed through a casting process as there was not enough sponsorship to hold an actual competition but there was a pageant to select the Argentinian rep, Mariana Varela. Mariana is also considered a strong contender for this year’s title but some question whether or not the IMG era will favor Osmel’s strict beauty techniques as they might be deemed somewhat old-guard for this progressive era that values achieved women more so than women that seem to have more of a focus on external beauty. I saw an interview around 1997 where Osmel said he wanted to do something as pointless as doing liposuction behind the knees of a Miss Venezuela contestant but her father wouldn’t allow it. Argentina’s representative Mariana’s bio seems to focus on how she opposes violence against women as she has experienced this in the past. Argentina has won the Miss Universe once back in 1962 thanks to Norma Nolan. However, Uruguay hasn’t had much success at Miss Universe with their best placement being 4th runner up in 1985 thanks to Andrea López. I’m very interested to see how Venezuela, Argentina, and Uruguay fare in the competition and especially if Osmel’s switch from Venezuela to Argentina and Uruguay will have any effect but I have a feeling that Venezuela will still rank above the other two.

Osmel Sousa coaches Alicia Machado prior to her winning Miss Universe 1996.



Ganados the Ganador?


And while Venezuela is the only country to win Miss Universe two years in a row (2008 and 2009), the tropical haven of Asia, the Philippines hopes to be the next with their bet this year, Gazini Ganados. We shall see if Gazini can succeed Catriona Gray and achieve the elusive back-to-back Miss Universe win for the pageant obsessed nation of the Philippines. Gazini is a graduate of Health Care Services NCII and Tourism Management from the University of San Jose Recoletos. She is an Ambassador of Sustainable Development for an initiative called ‘Leave No One Behind’ which emphasizes a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all. She is passionate about caring for the elderly and abandoned and she also advocates for education and prevention of HIV/AIDS. Another point of interest is that Gazini was raised by her maternal grandparents and she has never met her Palestinian father. The Philippines has captured the Miss Universe crown four times: Gloria Diaz in 1969, Margarita Moran in 1973, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach in 2015 and Catriona Gray in 2018 and the Philippines currently have the longest running streak in the semifinals placing every year since 2010 and Gazini hopes to make it ten years in a row and possibly get a 5th crown for the Pearl of the Orient seas.



Indian-a Clones and the Last Crusade of the 2010s

India, Australia, BangladeshNepal, Malaysia, SingaporeSome might deem the Miss Universe crown as the Holy Grail of pageantry and in this last pageant or crusade of the 2010s, there are several delegates competing this year of South Asian descent. Let us start with India which has won two Miss Universe crowns in 1994 and 2000 thanks to Sushmita Sen and Lara Dutta and this year, India is being represented by Vartika Singh who was appointed this year to represent India. Vartika received her Bachelor's degree in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics from Isabella Thoburn College. She holds a Master's degree in Public Health from the University of Lucknow and she is involved with initiatives to educate the public about various public health issues and illnesses like tuberculosis. If Vartika’s name sounds familiar, you might remember Vartika as the 2nd runner up at Miss Grand International 2015 which was won by another familiar name, Anea Garcia, who represented the Dominican Republic but you might remember that Anea was my prediction to win Miss USA 2015 where she finished as 2nd runner up representing Rhode Island. Anea would be dethroned during her reign as Miss Grand International giving up her crown to the 1st runner up, Australia’s Claire Parker who encountered a little controversy of her own when she tried to compete for Miss Australia Universe only to lose her inherited Miss Grand International title post-reign due to some rule that Miss Grand International titleholders were not to compete in other international pageant systems. However, the woman who did win the right to represent Australia at Miss Universe 2019 also happens to be of Indian descent, Priya Serrao. Priya was born in Belmannu, Karnataka but has also lived in Oman and the United Arab Emirates and she said she has attended 14 schools in her lifetime. She holds two university degrees: one in arts and one in law from Melbourne Law School. Serrao works as a policy adviser for the Government of Victoria, and will be admitted to the Supreme Court of Victoria as a lawyer in 2019. Naturally, her accomplishments make Priya one to watch in this year’s competition as they could be smiled upon and possibly lead to a placement in the semifinals for the land down under which also boasts two Miss Universe wins thanks to Kerry Anne Wells in 1972 and Jennifer Hawkins in 2004. The nation of Bangladesh is making its debut at Miss Universe this year and their bet is Shirin Akter Shela who was crowned by Miss Universe 1994, India’s Sushmita Sen. Shirin won the Face of Bangladesh 2019 competition and in addition to modelling, she is a third year graduate student of the Physics Department of University of Dhaka. A debuting country hasn’t won the Miss Universe crown since Botswana’s Mpule Kwelagobe achieved this feat in 1999 so Shirin hopes to repeat Mpule’s feat for Bangladesh 20 years later. Apart from Mpule, other women that won Miss Universe the first time their nation competed obviously include the first Miss Universe, Finland’s Armi Kuusela in 1952 and Colombia’s Luz Marina Zuluaga in 1958. Nepal also recently debuted in 2017 and finished in the top 10 last year so the land of Mount Everest hopes to achieve this feat again with their bet for 2019, Pradeepta Adhikari who has represented her country in international debate competitions and she is also a Medical Student currently studying in the Nepalese Army Institute of Health Sciences. Malaysia’s Shweta Sekhon was born in Kuala Lumpur and is of Punjabi descent and was raised by a single mother. She also advocates for self love and body positivity with her advocacy campaign, #YourBodyYourSay. Surprisingly, Malaysia has only placed once in Miss Universe history which was in 1970 thanks to Josephine Wong so Shweta hopes to change that. Another land of racial harmony, Singapore is being represented by Mohanaprabha Selvam who recently obtained a Biomedical Science degree and aspires to work towards promoting sustainable food and businesses to improve the lives of people and communities and is passionate about volunteering for Singapore’s Red Cross due to her humble beginnings. Mohanaprabha’s unique short hair could help her stand out this year and perhaps the host country of Miss Universe 1987 could make a comeback this year as they haven’t placed since then.
India is poised to take over from China as the most populated nation in the world within the next ten years. The top 12 most populated countries in the world are: China, India, USA, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Russia, Mexico, Japan and Philippines and 7 of these countries have won the Miss Universe crown (although Russia’s winner was dethroned in 2002 a few months after her win) which leaves: China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria and Bangladesh. Bangladesh is participating for the first time this year in Miss Universe history and Pakistan has never competed. China has placed 4 times with their highest placement as 2nd runner up in 2002, Indonesia has placed in the semifinals 6 times but has never advanced to a top 10 position. Nigeria has only placed once which was in 2001 and that woman, Agbani Darego would later win Miss World 2001 after placing 7th at Miss Universe 2001. In the next article, we will learn about another Miss Universe 2019 delegate of South Asian descent, the delegate from Panama…



I Don’t Feel Panamanian, I Am Panamanian

PanamaDominican RepublicThe tropical isthmus of Panama is being represented by another delegate of Indian descent, Mehr Eliezer, who was born in New Delhi, speaks English, Spanish and Hindi and she is accomplished since she has a Bachelor’s of Science in International Affairs with minors in economics and history. She is an intern at the Americas regional office of the United Nations Office for Project Services and she volunteers extensively. Mehr is one of the most photogenic contestants competing this year for Miss Universe 2019 but hopefully she has worked on her body since winning her national title. In a recently conducted interview, Mehr was asked if she feels Panamanian as some have deemed her look too foreign which prompted her to succinctly reply, “I don’t feel Panamanian, I AM Panamanian.” This answer reminded me a lot of what Panama’s only Miss Universe, Justine Pasek (who was born in Ukraine) said while competing for the 2002 crown which she would inherit after the original winner, Russia’s Oxana Fedorova was dethroned. Justine, when describing having lived all over the world said, “Nowhere have I felt like a foreigner so I am proud to say that I feel like a citizen of the world.” The world is increasingly becoming more of a melting pot with people of many races found in places where you might not expect them. Panama has hosted the Miss Universe pageant twice (in 1986 and 2003) and during the 1986 pageant, the slogan, “My name is Panama” was mentioned a lot and Mehr has fairly earned her right to represent her nation of Panama. However, Mehr found herself embroiled in a little bit of controversy surrounding a brief social media post of a fellow contestant, Dominican Republic’s Clauvid Daly shortly after Clauvid was crowned. While the post was taken down about 30 minutes after it was posted, it seemed to compare Mehr and Clauvid in a side-by-side picture but the picture of Clauvid seemed to have been altered slightly to make Clauvid look less attractive. After removing the post, Mehr quickly apologized to anyone offended by the post calling it a misunderstanding prompting some to call for her resignation as Panama’s representative at Miss Universe. Clauvid’s victory as the representative of the Dominican Republic was also criticized as it is rare that the Dominican Republic crowns a black winner but Clauvid at the young age of 18 also boasts some impressive accomplishments making her a very strong contender for Miss Universe 2019. She is currently studying to get her pilot’s license while working to obtain her degree in International Affairs and Diplomacy major at the Catholic University Santo Domingo. She has become the first female ambassador of the Dominican Republic in the United Nations and a global advocate to protect the freedom of young girls and she is advocating to end child marriage in her country and internationally. She started her advocacy in 2016, and two years later she founded the "Daly Foundation", which supports a young girl's rights to freedom and is also is working to bring awareness to the staggering rate of teenage pregnancy in her country. The land where your heart flames to the rhythms of merengue hasn’t captured the Miss Universe crown since 2003 so will young Clauvid achieve that feat for her nation?



I Love It When You Call Me Señorita Universo

Mexico's Sofia Aragon with Lupita Jones, Miss Universe 1991Brazil-Julia Horta Every touch is ooh la la la. It's true, la la la. Mexico’s Sofía Montserrat Aragón Torres would certainly love it if you called her Señorita Universo. Sofia has some fairly unique accomplishments and a story to tell. A published author, she has written two books “Diamante en Bruto” (2017) and “El color de lo Invisible” (2019) focusing on empowering women. She began modelling in 2009 but left to pursue her studies in Visual Culture and Marketing at the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara going on to learn theatrical makeup at the Cinema Makeup School in Los Angeles, and she worked in California as a special effects makeup artist until 2017. She is also an entrepreneur having launched her own cosmetics company, Soswami Makeup and her own publishing company, GLAMéxico. Sofia used to struggle with depression and had thoughts about committing suicide but she has since become an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Mexico has won the Miss Universe crown twice thanks to Lupita Jones in 1991 and Ximena Navarrete in 2010 but they haven’t placed since 2016 so we shall see if Sofia will bring pride to the land of the Mariachi.
In Brazil’s case, she loves it when you call her Senhorita Universo… Julia Horta earned her Journalism degree at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora in 2016. She has much experience with public speaking as that is her vocation in addition to being a digital influencer. She created a project called “Active Voice” enabling Julia to share knowledge about oration, meditation, feminism, self-awareness, and empowerment through social media and lectures. She also advocates for women’s empowerment and education and encourages them to use their voices and take on new opportunities. Julia seems to be favored by others and her look reminds me of pop star, Dua Lipa. Brazil has placed every year since they hosted in 2011 and they have won two Miss Universe crowns thanks to Ieda Maria Vargas in 1963 and Martha Vasconcellos in 1968. How will Julia do?



I Keep On Hoping We'll See Coucke by the Marina?

France-Maeva CouckeAlbania-Cindy Marina This headline is a play on the DNCE hit song ‘Cake by the Ocean’. The cake is Coucke (Miss France’s last name) and the ocean is Marina (Miss Albania’s last name). France’s delegate, Maeva Coucke is very photogenic and is certainly one to watch this year. She was a favorite for the 2018 Miss World crown where she finished among the top 12 and since Vaimalama Chaves who won the 2019 Miss France title opted not to compete in an international pageant, the Miss France Organisation confirmed in September that they had appointed Maeva to represent France at Miss Universe 2019 and we are very glad to have her! This eyeful tower is naturally a blonde but dyes her hair red similarly to one Miss USA 2011, Alyssa Campanella. Maeva even has a twin sister and they both competed for the Elite Model Look competition in 2011. Maeva has obtained a degree in International Trade and she is also passionate about the fight against breast cancer, as her mother is a survivor of the disease. She uses her national platform to raise awareness for breast cancer screenings and actively raises funds for organizations trying to find a cure. Could France succeed the Philippines again and get another win since their last in 2016 thanks to Iris Mittenaere? This romantic land of fashion has also captured the 1953 Miss Universe crown thanks to Christiane Martel.
Albania’s delegate, Cindy Marina who is very tall, striking and athletic being a volleyball player is also someone to watch in this year’s competition and she should have a very strong presence on stage. Albania has been sending some very memorable delegates but they haven’t placed since 2010 so is it time for a return? And will we see France and Albania side by side throughout the competition? Named after Cindy Crawford, Miss Marina was actually born in Chicago, Illinois and is a setter for the USC Trojans women's volleyball team and the Albania women's national volleyball team. Cindy’s Albanian parents were also athletes with her father playing collegiate football and her mother was also a professional volleyball player.



Justice for Christie
(Club 96)



And now for a little fun segment as there have been some notable pageant contestants seen on multiple reality competitions recently. In the 31st U.S. edition of the recently concluded “Amazing Race,” there was a showdown of all-stars from various reality show duos from previous editions of the Amazing Race, Big Brother and Survivor. The winner of this season was a very familiar face in the pageant world, none other than Christie Lee Woods, Miss Teen USA 1996! Christie won the competition working with her life partner, Colin Guinn. The couple has two children and they previously competed in the 5th edition of the Amazing Race in 2004 where they narrowly finished in 2nd place just ahead of another notable pageant contestant, Nicole O’Brian who was Miss Texas USA 2003 (2nd runner up to Miss USA 2003, Massachusetts’ Susie Castillo) and Miss Texas Teen USA 2000 (1st runner up to Miss Teen USA 2000, Pennsylvania’s Jillian Parry). Christie Lee Woods-Miss Teen USA 1996Danielle Boatwright-Miss Kansas USA 1996 I was very happy to see Christie pull off the win at Amazing Race because she was the first Miss Teen USA to be denied a state title to compete at Miss USA. Prior to Christie, the other Miss Teen USA winners who won their Miss USA state titles on their first attempts (Hawaii’s Kelly Hu-Miss Teen USA 1985 and 4th runner up to Miss USA 1993, Idaho’s Brandi Sherwood-Miss Teen USA 1989 and 1st runner up at Miss USA 1997 later inheriting the title after Hawaii’s Brook Lee won Miss Universe, Iowa’s Jamie Solinger-Miss Teen USA 1992 and unplaced at Miss USA 1998 and California’s Shauna Gambill-Miss Teen USA 1994 and 1st runner up at Miss USA 1998 and also top 10 at Miss World 1998). When Christie competed for Miss Texas USA 2002, she finished as 3rd runner up and then she placed as a semifinalist at Miss Texas USA 2003 and 2004 and then aged out making Christie the first Miss Teen USA to be denied a Miss USA state title and in fact, no other Miss Teen USA who has attempted to win a Miss USA state title has won since surprisingly. Some suspect this might have been a strategy to not discourage other participants from competing. It especially seemed wrong for Nicole O’Brian to win Miss Texas USA 2003 over Christie and it seemed to be poetic justice for Christie to rank ahead of Nicole at the Amazing Race in 2004 but it felt really satisfying to see Christie win the million dollar prize for the Amazing Race in 2019. I also subtitle this article Club 96, not just because of the memorable way Naomi Smalls and Valentina whispered it into the camera during Rupaul’s Drag Race-All Stars 4 in 2019 but also because another denied pageant girl from ’96 was also a reality show champion. Kansas’ Danielle Boatwright was 1st runner up at Miss USA 1996 and also 2nd runner up at Miss Teen USA 1992 but after being narrowly denied those crowns, she would triumph by winning an edition of “Survivor” in Guatemala in 2005. Danielle Boatwright’s loss at Miss USA 1996 was somewhat surprising as her preliminary score was a 9.47 compared to 2nd runner up, Tennessee’s Becca Lee’s 9.19 and the eventual winner of Miss USA 1996, Louisiana’s Ali Landry’s 9.18. The top 3 of Miss USA 1996 stayed the same but resulted in a shuffled order compared to the preliminaries with Ali Landry finishing in first place and ranking over Danielle and Becca. In this way, it also seemed to be poetic justice for Danielle to win the million dollar Survivor prize. Going back to the Miss Teen USA 1996 class, the 1st runner up, Pennsylvania’s Patricia Campbell won an episode of “Fear Factor” in 2001. I was always bothered that only two contestants from the 1996 Miss Teen USA class made it to the Miss USA stage because it was such a great class but at least there have been some successes elsewhere. (The two ladies from the 1996 Miss Teen USA class that made it to the Miss USA stage were: Kansas’ Amanda Carraway who was unplaced at Miss USA 1999 and Minnesota’s Sarah Cahill who also went unplaced at Miss USA 2003.) Other notable pageant contestants who competed in reality competitions include two that competed for the U.S. edition of Big Brother 21 in the summer of 2019: Holly Allen, Miss Wyoming USA 2012 who finished in 2nd place and top 10 finisher, Kathryn Dunn who competed in several state pageants finishing as 4th runner up at Miss Texas USA 2011, semifinalist at Miss Texas USA 2012, 1st runner up at Miss Colorado USA 2017 and 3rd runner up at Miss Colorado USA 2018. I was hoping for a better result for Kathryn Dunn as she was truly one that got away who aged out before she could get to the Miss USA stage and she would have ranked very highly on my predictions’ lists if she did make it to Miss USA so that was a bit of a disappointment for me after Christie Lee Woods’ Amazing Race win. Also, making waves in the reality world is Miss Alabama USA 2018, Hannah Brown who went unplaced at Miss USA 2018 but would go on to compete for “The Bachelor” in 2018 and then being selected to be “The Bachelorette” for 2019 and then going on to win the 2019 U.S. edition of “Dancing With The Stars!” If anyone should learn anything from this, it is that everyone experiences wins and losses in life but one should not be discouraged and keep trying because you never know what could happen and learn from the experiences that these adventures provide and network along the way.

(Left) Holly Allen-Miss Wyoming USA 2012 and 1st runner up on U.S. edition of Big Brother 21. (Right) Kathryn Dunn-1st Runner Up to Miss Colorado USA 2017 and top 10 on U.S. edition of Big Brother 21.


Hannah Brown-Miss Alabama USA 2018 with partner Alan Bersten wins the 2019 U.S. edition of Dancing with the Stars.





So as of November 25, Tom’s tentative top 5 for Miss Universe 2019 are:
1. Ireland
2. Colombia
3. Thailand
4. Puerto Rico
5. France

Will my top 5 change over the coming weeks or will they stay the same? I will post a second round of prethoughts on December 2 where I will comment on all of the delegates and then after viewing the preliminary swimsuit and gown competitions which are being held on December 6 at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, my final predictions for Miss Universe 2019 will be posted on the morning of December 8.



Of course, tell everyone to watch Miss Universe 2019! The big night is December 8 at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on FOX!


 

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Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP